Rudolph is scheduled to see Dr. William Meyers, a core specialist in Philadelphia, on Tuesday to decide his course of action, according to Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.
Rudolph suffered the “core” injury on the first play of the Vikings’ final drive in a 20-9 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
While coming off the line to run a pass route, Rudolph took only a couple steps before stopping his route in pain.
Placing the former Pro Bowl tight end on the injured reserve-designated to return list is a possibility. That would keep him out at least six weeks.
“I’ve always tried to demonstrate that these times can define you as a person. This latest setback will be no different,” Rudolph tweeted on Monday night. “I will prove that my determination and dedication to this team, city, and most importantly, our fans, will carry me back to where I belong. Thanks to everyone that continues to believe in me. And to those that, at any point, might have wavered … I will carry you with me.”
This isn’t the first major injury for Rudolph in his four seasons with the Vikings. Last year, he suffered a fractured foot in the eighth game of the season and missed the remainder of the season.
Rudolph is tied for second on the Vikings with 17 targets in three games and is third on the team with 10 catches for 96 yards. He has one of the team’s three receiving touchdowns.
“Kyle is a big threat in the red zone, but we also have other guys that can step up and make plays,” receiver Jarius Wright said. “I don’t want to say we wouldn’t miss him in the red zone, but I think we’ve got the team that can step up and make the plays.”
In his Pro Bowl season of 2012, he had 53 catches for 493 yards and nine touchdowns – all career highs.
If Rudolph is out for an extended period, the Vikings could look to sign another tight end or promoted Chase Ford from the practice squad. Ford played in nine games last year and caught 10 passes, with seven of them going for first downs.
Quarterback Matt Cassel suffered several broken bones in his left foot and is going to see a foot specialist on Thursday. The Vikings will know more about Cassel’s timeline for recovery after that visit, but the starting job goes to rookie Teddy Bridgewater for the foreseeable future.
Starting right guard Brandon Fusco suffered a pectoral injury and is also getting a second opinion.
Linebacker Chad Greenway has a broken rib and Zimmer said he wouldn’t play if he performed like he did Sunday, but Zimmer said it was his fault for playing Greenway after he didn’t practice most of last week because of the rib injury and a broken hand.
“He had a hard game (on Monday). It’s my fault. He didn’t practice all week, and then we weren’t sure and thought he could go,” Zimmer said. “So that was my mistake. He probably shouldn’t have went last week.”
Cornerback Josh Robinson is also dealing with a hamstring injury that took him out of the game in the fourth quarter and center John Sullivan downplayed a right wrist injury that was wrapped on Monday.
“You never plan on having this many injuries as you have, but we’re not going to make excuses about it,” Zimmer said. “I still believe that the best team, guys that play together, play the hardest, make the fewest mistakes, are going to win. Our expectation level is the guy that comes in has to come in and perform like he’s supposed to. So, our expectation level doesn’t change because of injuries.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.